The NFC North is probably the weakest division in the NFL, as you may know. The only division close to it in comparison might be the “one-team” AFC South. The North will be a one-team race again this season. The Chicago Bears are at the head of the class, coming off of a Super Bowl appearance. Minnesota, Green Bay, and Detroit are all years away from contending with the Monsters of the Midway. You never know, a team might come up out of nowhere to shock the football world, but I highly doubt it. Two reasons why: ’07 Bears team is stacked and the other teams’ rosters are not even close. You might hear the Packers, Lions, and Vikings talk about competing this year for a division crown, or so-called “experts” making noise that one of these teams has a chance to knock of the Bears ~ I don’t buy it all ~ don’t believe one bit of it, so after you brush up on your football information and knowledge, you can see why the Bears are the class of this division. They might have to re-name the North after another successful division title for the Windy City – “Bears’ Division”
Chicago Bears 2007 Prediction: 12-4 – The best defense and special teams unit arguably in the NFL, a much-improved offense with new, added weapons, under the same system for another year, the Bears will continue to dominate the NFC North. Look for them to go 5-1 or 6-0 against this division and make a case for the best team in the NFL. Their QB play will scare away lots of experts picking them as repeat NFC champions, and their unproven RB situation may be a concern for Head Coach Lovie Smith and Co. Their secondary, receivers, and defensive line all got better and healthier (Tommie Harris, Mike Brown, and Mark Bradley.) They added WR/RB Devin Hester to offense, Rex has a full season under his belt, and Cedric Benson is poised to put up a monster year. Chicago’s draft was a strong point like usual, adding TE Greg Olsen, RB Garrett Wolfe, DE Dan Bauzin, and S Kevin Payne. Injuries, QB play, and the older offensive line are the only reasons to pick against this squad. Their defense is too good to hold them back, as they force quarterbacks into bad decisions, (Since ’04 – Defense has put a premium on allowing a QB Rating at 68.4, best in this department) creating turnovers constantly. Not too many weaknesses on this Bears team as they look to go all the way to Glendale, Arizona for SB XLII.
Minnesota Vikings 2007 Prediction: 7-9 – Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor form a good 1-2 punch, like Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson did last year. Peterson, (7th overall) a talented downhill runner, can break a game wide open with his homerun capabilities and Taylor will rush for his 1,000 yards and provide a receiving option out of the backfield for young QB Tarvaris Jackson. The run game is consistent and having the NFL’s top run defense is a plus for this young team. Their pass game on the other hand is non-existent with a very, inexperienced quarterback, and having no true WR in his arsenal to throw to will add more question marks to an already glaring weak spot.. Troy Williamson, Bobby Wade, and Sidney Rice will not get the job done and it’s not enough for a QB who needs a veteran target to be there every week. Jackson is quick and showed some flashes in ’06. The defense can stop the run, though they are inadequate against the passing attack, Minnesota can improve on that. Darren Sharper and Antoine Winfield will help â€˜em out and their young defensive ends should get to the QB more. DT’s Kevin and Pat Williams will be the strong point, but the LB’s have to step up if these Vikings want to achieve a .500 record. The offense will be the major question mark and can be answered by running the ball 60% of the time, mixing in the play-action on second downs.
Green Bay Packers 2007 Prediction: 6-10 – The Packers of the mid-to-late 90’s are done and over with, say goodbye to the winning era, by welcoming in a new one (disappointing) with a team that still belongs to QB Brett Favre. They might have a chance with the record-breaking gunslinger but don’t hold your breath, as you can see them picking in the Top 10 for 2008 when you look at their backfield. A RB-committee will be led by Rookie second-rounder Brandon Jackson (Nebraska) and former Texan Vernand Morency. You need to take a small look at the lack of consistency there, stop and wonder why they did not address the glaring situation in the off-season with a veteran (or are they still shopping – July 13 – Larry Johnson still an option?), and see that G.B. will go under .500 for only the second time in Favre’s career. The WR spot is no better, after Donald Driver there is no one ready to take the role opposite of him. The defense is very young and is led by Ohio State standout A.J. Hawk and should get better for all the time they’ll be out there on the field, giving up third-down conversions after third-down conversion. They have more holes on defense and offense than a slice of swiss cheese, so look for Green Bay to take a year off from contending and slide down to third place in the North.
Detroit Lions 2007 Prediction: 4-12 – The Lions will get better, though it does not necessarily guarantee more wins. Their offensive line’s a big weak spot and expect Kitna to take a lot of hits. If he is sacked too much, his old body might not be able to handle it well, and who’s their back-up anyway – Drew Stanton? He will be running (if he can) for his life and looking for Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, and Mike Furrey all the time. If they want to win six or seven games they have to run the more and feature Tatum Bell, a nice pick-up who can take it to the house on occasion. Their defense is good on the d-line, but their linebackers and secondary are horrendous. Dre Bly will truly be missed and they will count on blitzes more than ever this season. If they do not rush the QB, teams will pick apart this bad defensive backfield. The Lions sure can pass the ball deep and score points on offense – now all they have to do is play a little defense, stopping the scoreboard from being lit up like a Christmas tree.